Eurotunnel claims compensation for migrant disruption

Eurotunnel is claiming €29m (£23m) from the British and French governments for lost revenue and extra costs caused by migrants trying to get from Calais to the UK.

The company, which operates the tunnel linking the UK with France, said disruption at Calais affected its truck and passenger shuttle services in the second half of 2015. Both services were also affected by the terrorist attacks on Paris in November, which hit cross-channel coach travel as well.

Announcing its annual results, the company said: “The security of the fixed link being the responsibility of the two governments, a claim for €29m has been made via the intergovernmental commission to compensate essentially the revenue losses due to migrant pressure.”

Eurotunnel carries Eurostar high-speed trains between Paris, Brussels and London, and shuttle trains containing passenger cars, coaches and freight trucks.

The company suffered disruption to its services starting in the summerfrom refugees and migrants, 6,000 of whom now live in the makeshift camps outside Calais, known as the Jungle. The €29m claim mainly covers reduced revenue but also includes the cost of paying employees for extra shifts.

People trying to stow away on trains bound for the UK forced rail operators to suspend night-time services on and off from June to October, causing the number of trains running through the tunnel last year to fall 17% to 2,421. The number of people trying to board trains illegally fell dramatically after Britain funded fences in Calais and France deployed extra police, Eurotunnel said.

“The work done in co-operation with the British and French governments … has enabled Eurotunnel to provide a transport service with no disruption since October 2015,” the company said.

For the year to the end of December, operating profit rose 2% to €387m from revenues of €1.2bn, up 5%. Eurotunnel transported 2.6m passenger vehicles and 1.5m trucks

Eurotunnel increased its 2015 dividend by 22% to 22 cents and forecast a further rise in profit this year and next, driven by higher economic activity on both sides of the channel, the company said.

“Business remains dynamic, led by growth in the British economy and signs of improvement in Europe,” Chief Executive Jacques Gounon said in a statement.